Keeping the pace with London

2016 London Marathon – Latest update on my progress towards next years Marathon which I will be entering in support of RP Fighting Blindness.

I have been really busy over the last few weeks, setting up some running partners – guides to help with my training during the cold and wet build up to Christmas.

Fortunately I have found a couple of guides who will help me stay focussed over the next couple of months, and help me to build my overall fitness during this period.

I am really pleased to share that I’ve found a fitness instructor, who will be training with me after Christmas, and he has taken on the task to actually guide me throughout the Marathon.

It is really cool to have found such a guide, because he is happy to set me up with a full Marathon running plan, helping me at each stage of the journey.

Being a lazy runner, I will need someone like him to get the best out of my training, keep me injury free, and push things to the next level.

My hopes are to do a sub four hour run but I will have to work really hard to get there, and I will be adding to this blog to keep you all up to date with my progress so watch this space and keep tuned to AMH Pianos or my Twitter feed for updates. Wish me luck!

A Brief History Of Lewisham-WOW!

I am always fascinated by, and deeply interested in the history of places which I carry out my work of tuning pianos, restoration and repairs, and piano removals. I like to imagine what it might have been like back in time, as London which we know today developed from small villages or even a collection of properties. This is my favourite whistle stop historical account of Lewisham, a vibrant and important borough of London.

Lewisham began its humble Saxon beginnings as Oleofsa’s village. In 862 Lewisham was referred to as LIofshema Mearc, then as Lieuesham in 918 and as Levesham in the Doomsday Book In 1086. Abraham Colfe, Vicar of Lewisham (1610-1657), founded a grammar school, a primary school, and six almshouses for the inhabitants of Lewisham.

In 1816 Lewisham was described as a rural village on the banks of the Ravensbourne that could only be reached by a long coach ride. It’s hard to imagine anyone trying to cover the distance in a day without what TFL has provided us in terms of transportation these days.

In 1828 the Riverdale Mill was built and is the only one of the Ravensbourne mills still surviving today. The Riverdale Mill was initially a leather mill and then became a corn mill in the 18th century. The first railway through Lewisham, the North Kent Line to Dartford, opened in 1849 and the present Lewisham station opened in 1857. In 1897 the Lewisham Clock tower was built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.

The Lewisham Street Market started in 1906 Lewisham town centre was devastated by a flying bomb in 1944, but recovered by the 1950’s. In 1977 the Lewisham Shopping Centre was built and in 1994 the High Street in the town centre was pedestrianised allowing a traffic-free street market and an open space.

Lewisham’s rich history has fed into the vibrant diverse town centre that it is today. The area is bordered by Catford, Deptford, Greenwich and Hither Green. It is a busy shopping district with a good mix of chain and independent stores and Lewisham Shopping Centre, which is one of the biggest in South East London, and Lewisham Market. The market is open seven days a week with the Monday to Saturday market selling mainly fruit, vegetables, fresh cut flowers and a small range of non-perishable goods. The Sunday market is a general market selling non-perishable goods with up to 60 stalls. There is also an annual programme of themed markets, which include, French, Polish, International and a market made up of local traders.

On Lee High Road there is an eclectic mix of independent shops which include an Italian barbers, an accordion shop, a Polish shop and fancy dress shop. At the Ladywell end of Lewisham High Street a pet store, a selection of beauty and hair dressing businesses and a wide selection of specialist food stores can be found.

Lewisham Borough’s famous residents, past and present include Danny Baker (Broadcaster), Kate Bush (singer/song-writer), James Callaghan (Labour Prime Minister), Sir James Clark-Ross (polar explorer), Big Jim Connell (socialist), Ernest Dowson (poet), Alfred Titch Freeman (cricketer), Gabrielle (singer/song-writer), Sir Isaac Hayward (politician), Glenda Jackson MP (politician & actress), David Jones (painter & poet), Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen (TV presenter), Spike Milligan (comedian & writer), Mica Paris (singer/song-writer), Sybil Pheonix MBE (community worker), Terry Waite (Archbishop’s Envoy), Max Wall (comedian) and Ian Wright (footballer), just to name a few. That seems to be a fairly illustrious, star studded list if I say so myself.

I really enjoy travelling throughout this part of the city, and sometimes wonder in hundreds of years time, how will people be living, and will there be pianos to tune.

Meanwhile, if you would like some attention for your piano here in 2015, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Give thanks to www.lewisham.towntalk.co.uk
Best,

Andy M Howard (AMH Pianos)
AEWVH Dip, MABPT, MIMIT
Fully Qualified & Insured Piano Tuner Technician
(Disclosure Barring Service) Checked

Office: 020 3685 5083
Mob: 07500 661581

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Looking Back At the Years

It has been quite a journey for me, both personally and professionally, ever since I set up AMH Pianos. With my work gaining constant coverage across London, I have been profoundly affected by the multi-cultural surroundings, which seems to exhibit novel creative and social dimensions not found in Bristol and the West Country. I feel as if the vibes of the capital have moved me; shaped my ways of thinking as well as my perspective in life. I do wonder, what might have been, had I not made the bold move of taking the world on my own terms, in new surroundings. Certainly, whatever has become of me in the last few years, has been a substantial improvement.

With my birthday on the horizon, I reminisce about my own personal development. Ever since my relocation to Hammersmith in West London, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many unique, interesting individuals, from all walks of life. I not only am tasked with looking after their pianos, they are also my friends. Being in the capital, my offerings related to piano removals and full scale general repairs have allowed me exposure to an even greater array of instruments, in different surroundings. Constant exposure to all makes and models has ensured that I am able to provide a better tuning service with the passage of time.

In addition to what I know best, I have also learned the use of social media and have even gained quite a fan following. Blogging, training for the London Marathon, and being exposed to the arts, has without a doubt, filled in many of the building blocks that nowhere else in the country could. However, in the grand scheme of things, all this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

The greatest accomplishment for me, I feel, has been my personal development on the people skills front. Each time one of my customers provide me with praise and thanks, appreciating what I have done, I feel so much taller, yet humbled. For a new place to be favourable, it is not the environment or infrastructure, but rather the people who make up the community. Being blessed to be part of a cosmopolitan, multifaceted and creative mix, I come away each day learning not just something new, but often something so out of the box. This daily phenomena is sufficient to keep me grounded, since whenever I feel like I have learnt a great deal, I also find myself thinking that I have really not learnt anything at all. Still however, there is a long way to go before world domination.

When Using a Service Provider, Check their Views on Google

It is 2015, and everyone now has ready access to the web. Service providers, therefore, should be very intent on fostering good relations with their customers, suppliers and distributors. This is because these days, news not only travels fast, it travels instantly, and remains in the public view forever! Whenever you are looking to work with someone new, you have to ensure that their goals and your expectations are on the same page so that you can avoid disappointments later.

To gauge a service provider you could look into what they think about social media. GooglePlus is a social platform where individuals and businesses get together because of their shared interests in various trends. The platform also provides past customers to provide reviews about a product or service they have recently received. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, provide individuals to talk about their thoughts and feelings about any subject in real time. Additionally, Linkedin is perhaps the most effective way that you can read your service provider’s CV.

The more engaged a service provider is on social media, the more easily accessible they are. Such presence also makes for good accountability and honest, transparent communication. In addition, as a customer, your queries get answered readily, and you can even get a more personalized experience. Whenever you see service providers who are keen on establishing contact with their clients it shows that they seek to work together with them to provide efficient value for money; it shows their devotion since they are taking time off to post about progress and have dialogues with a human being. This digital evolution has made it possible to eliminate the traditional model of customers just being another number. The benefits of embracing technology are mutual for the service provider and user.

Real time feedback, leading to substantial improvement, is what leads to great service in a fast paced modern world, where ratings are now everything. Sites such as Yell and Thomson Local, once merely a directory listing, have now evolved to also describe the user experience of others, to help you make a more informed choice.

With a recent survey suggesting that as much as 93% of the people now trust online reviews, I find it shocking to know that so many of my contemporaries are still not online. In fact, they refuse to get digitally acquainted, in spite being told of the benefits and competitive advantage of doing so. When such people are called on to provide a trade/service, you may find that a lack of digital understanding will probably manifest into a lack of appreciation of today’s lifestyles and the resulting considerations, such as punctuality, communication and flexibility that makes all the difference these days.

It is always worth your while to research your service providers so that you can know just what they are like. Learn what they believe in so that you can be sure that you are reading from the same script during interaction, which may require repetition. On that subject, please feel free to read our testimonials, and if possible, please write us a review.

Local Piano Tuner

I have thought about a really interesting mindset; let me try to explain. When I finished moving to London, and set up AMH Pianos, I found that people would call me, and ask if I am a Local Piano Tuner!

I have to ask them, "What actually makes a Local Piano Tuner?". I am Based in Hammersmith, and my working area is all across London – please check my Areas Covered Page to find out where I serve.

I think the Idea of a Local service is very undefined, and near impossible to actually qualify, for example:

If I got on the Hammersmith and City Line from Goldhawk Road, for a job in and around London Bridge, I would then consider myself as being local to Camden, Greenwich, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth at this point of my working day.

Also, If I had a job in Ealing, traveling  up on the Central Line from Shepherds Bush, I would then be Local to Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and so on. There is a definite pattern here. Can you see what I am talking about?

Is there some kind of an invisible, “local area distinction”?! And if so, could someone please explain to a new London resident like me what these are, and why? I am aware of so many people with their crash pads in London, working  in London during the week, and getting away for the weekend.

I am also aware of Piano Tuners, who don’t live in the city, but come and work in London for a couple of days, and then head back home, which happens to be outside the Greater London boundaries.

Can there be such a thing as a London wide Local Piano Tuning Service?
I believe that in the 21st century, we are all living in a "Global Village". Still however, if you were to operate more than five miles from one's home in London, you may not be considered local anymore.

I wonder, how far is the average commute in the City, and are these people looked at as being non Local at their place of work?

Scratching head trying to work out what the answer really is!! My own personal view is that to be truly considered local, anywhere, the key is to develop close ties with the area, community and activities within that area. Least of all, this would begain you respect from the people for your efforts

Please call on us: AMH Pianos- Local London wide Piano Related Services.

Reflections on Guy Fawkes Night

The nights are drawing in & the season for pyrotechnics has begun across Britain. Starting with Halloween, it gathers pace, culminating with a bang at the New Year. Revered highly by the ancient Greeks & worshipped by the Zoroastrians fire has fascinated man since the dawn of time. The old traditions of history, like the Hindu wedding ceremony & the Olympic torch, all depict a harmonious relation between fire & music. So as I wander throughout London, I can just imagine the City’s historical grandeur consisting of gaslights, architecture & beautiful music – perhaps some of the finest works ever created.

European classical music has been created to grip, captivate & provoke thought. Could the creative purity remain unadulterated, not confined to today’s chart topping convention! Today’s instrument definitions have changed whilst fire remains constant. The contrast intrigues me. Classical music is deceptively simple in execution & creation, despite the complexities of the stories & human emotions conveyed. With our shorter attention spans, craving more extravagant visual displays, is our aesthetic appreciation rising at the expense of our musical concentration?

London fireworks
London fireworks – courtesy: Timeout

Is our changing perception evolutionary or revolutionary? Was there an event that tipped the balance to make us resonate more with transverse light than with longitudinal sound waves? Is the trend reversible? If so then what would the catalyst be? Only a few days after Guy Fawkes Night, I leave you with these thought provoking questions. Meanwhile, I am hoping for a new, more fulfilling sound leading into 2016.

Have a melodious week ahead, from everyone at AMH Tuning Pianos.

Piano Tuning Cost

As a fully qualified Piano Tuner, I sometimes wonder, how much are my skills really worth in 2015?

I trained for three years learning all aspects of Piano tuning and Piano Repairs, developing my skills to a very high standard. Only after rigorous training at the Royal National College (RNC) and after acquiring a Dip AEWVH did I started acquiring on the job experience, perfecting my skills and technique over many years.

The costs of piano tuning in London ranges from £50 up to £100. In spite of my highly competitive rates, I get customers who regularly try to haggle over the price with me when they call. Is it me, or would these same people argue over the costs of their cars being fixed at a high end dealership? “Will you give me a ten percent discount on your pricing?”, is what I regularly encounter at the time of bookings. I consequently try to laugh it off, saying: “Yes, you can have a discount, if you are willing to bring the piano to me for tuning.” . Sadly, the service users do not normally get the joke.

A piano tuning takes at least one hour, plus  naturally there is the travel time and cost of getting to and from the clients home to consider. Travelling across London generally takes more than the time spent at the clients' home, all whilst transporting my tools and keeping these in good working order..

There are certain tradesmen, who charge a call out fee, before they start any job,  and this is considered as standard practice. So why is the craft of a Piano tuner, not consider to be a highly skilled professional trade? Lots of people would attempt basic electrical work around the house themselves. And yet, how many would actually try to finely tune a concert grand piano? Or for that matter, how many could even attempt sound restoration and instrument servicing on an ordinary domestic upright piano?

Please take a look at my website to see the quality of work, and how professional a service we offer. You can expect nothing but the best, most affordable name in tuning and repairing pianos, and we can also offer removals of pianos in and around London.

I take great pride in my work. Therefore, an affordable and friendly service request for AMH Pianos will always aim to hit the right chord for your instrument, and indeed your pockets.

 

Living In West London

After moving to London around two and a half years ago, I am so impressed with the transport network within the city. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is the one city of the UK where public transport really works. Living close to Goldhawk Road tube Station, I feel blessed with the amount of underground lines and travel options thatI can link into, in order to carry out my work as a Piano Tuner.

There are five underground lines within a ten minute walk from my home, near Hammersmith Broadway, where I can link into the District and Piccadilly Lines. being able to use these lines to access Central London, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, linking to London Victoria station, and trains to Wandsworth, Lewisham, Greenwich, and further afield into South East London, and South West London and beyond. The choices are plentiful, making it possible for me to get to my required destination on time and with the appropriate assistance if required.

The District Line from Hammersmith, passess through Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, linking into Waterloo, and Waterloo East, where I can link in with the overground stations, that serve places like London Bridge, Deptford, Bexley heath, and all over South East London. The Piccadilly Line links in with stations to Ealing Broadway and Cock fosters. Going north, I can link into stations like South Kensington, Hyde Park Corner, Kings Cross St. Pancras, which is a great inter-connecting station to all parts of London where I work.

As someone who is Blind, I find it so much easier to move across London, than it was to travel around the West Country. Thanks to the work done by TFL, I am able to live an independent life and offer the services for AMH Pianos.

My Massive Personal Physical Challenge

Next year, will bring for me a massive challenge both mentally and Physically. I am at this time, preparing for the London Marathon 2016. This is going to be my second London Marathon, and I am running in aid of a blindness charity called Metro Blind Sports. The charity helps Blind and Partially sighted people to enjoy sports and live a Healthier lifestyle, and opens sporting opportunities which may not be available to them.

I have not only been set the task of running 26 miles, but also to promote the charity and hopefully reach out to Blind and Partially sighted people across London. Bring it on!

The Race starts in Greenwich Park, and finishes in St. James's Park, with the iconic finish along the Mall heading up to Buckingham Palace. Being new to London, I really enjoy passing through the many Boroughs where I serve the public through my Piano Tuning and Piano Maintenance work.

I am planning to write Blog entries throughout my training, and also hoping to add some film clips of my training runs along the way. These would be available to watch directly from my website or through my Youtube Channel, and I will let you know on Twitter, GooglePlus and Facebook when the next clip is live.

Generally I run from my home, over the Hammersmith bridge towards Barnes, dropping down onto the river bank, heading towards Kew, and on towards Richmond Park. In addition, I will also be doing some track work at the Battersea Park running track , to build up my speed skills and general physical fitness.

As a blind runner, taking on such a challenge, is a real mountain to climb, and I hope my runs over the next few months will interest you, and offer an insight into running a marathon with severe sight loss. If you have any advice or running tips for me, please share them in the comments section below, or by sending me an email. Wish me luck!

Accessible London

Having travelled all over the UK, I often think to myself: is London the most accessible city in the country? We are seeing a really integrated transport system in the Capital, with great transport networks, both above and below ground and having step free access becoming more and more the norm for the commuters of London. As a Blind Piano Tuner, I can travel, using this amazing public transport system, carrying out my work and indulge in social activities. Having a smart phone, using GPS and route mapping, I don’t think I could do as well anywhere else in the UK. Transport for London, TFL, should be really proud of the network, and I would like to give thanks for the skills and insights of the city planners.




Audio announcements on trains and buses are helpful to so many people whether you are new to the city or travelling to other areas outside of your daily commute. These audio systems help along all stages of ones travel. Many accessibility advancements, I feel, have been a direct result of the Paralympic Games 2012, which as one of my passions, finds great coverage across London, providing all the more reason to fall in love with this beautiful capital of ours.